Board stands up for jockey mom
Kayla Stra was understandably outraged when one of the Betfair Hollywood Park track stewards allegedly told her she needed to choose between being a jockey and a mother.
So much for having it all. Stra told a local Southern California radio station that a female steward prohibited her from breastfeeding her son in the women's jockey room and told her agent that she had to choose between being a mom or a jockey. According to a U-T San Diego report, the track provided a separate area for Stra. But now, she doesn't need her own room.
California Horse Racing Board, the state's racing governing body, stepped in immediately to make things right for the working mom.
"The CHRB will not tolerate discrimination in any form against anyone for any reason," chairman David Israel wrote on the organization's website. "No special rooms. No one goes to the back of the damn bus. Period. In order for a new mother to do her job, certain accommodations need to be made."
Israel went on to say he wants to attract women to the business and, "It's the right thing to do."
He's right. But it's worth noting that if the 28-year-old Stra had sued the track in California, a costly suit for the track to defend, she would likely have prevailed. In 1998, the state codified the rights of breastfeeding mothers in the workplace.
It's gratifying to see an unacceptable injustice was righted so quickly. The stress of sleepless nights that comes with being a new parent is hard enough to cope with, much less the idea that Stra is expected to act biologically like a man while all this is happening.
Stra released a statement that read: "After all is said and done in regards to this issue that has arisen from having my baby in then lady jocks room, I hope I can just get back to being 'one of the boys' again."
Love the way she put that.
Women who work in a man's world generally just want to pass unnoticed when it comes to gender and reach the finish line based on their own merits. It can be mortifying when some "lady issue" changes that dynamic. In this case, Stra has gotten a lot of support from inside and outside the racing community.
Although she has been lauded for speaking up, it's important to note how impressive Stra is for her athleticism. She won her first race three months after giving birth in November. And that is something truly worth celebrating.